Honey bees are constantly attacked by bacteria, viruses, protozoa’s, fungi and those exotic, pesky parasitic mites. Moreover, other insects attack bee equipment. Disease and pest control requires continuous watchfulness by the beekeeper. The bees live in a small, enclosed, moist, dark, and poorly ventilated environment which means diseases will be more common if not monitored closely.
Diseases of Honeybee
In order to maintain a disease-free hive, it is important that you know how to recognize healthy brood and bees. It may sound cliché, but prevention is definitely better than cure. Hygienic practices should be implemented. Avoid discarding comb and propolis or exchange combs in the apiary. Do not squash the bees whenever you are handling the colony. Avoid spilling sugar and syrup or manipulate the bees late in the season to maintain a clean hive.
Second-hand equipment usually contained a diseased colony. So it is a healthy practise not to use second-hand frames or combs. You should use different hive tools and gloves for each apiary. Combs should be sterilized with 80% acetic acid or PDB. Swarms should be quarantined at once and be checked for any diseases. Any foreign bee that visits the hive or bee of unknown origin shouldn’t be fed.
In the event you are not sure about a certain disease, you should seek the advice on an experienced beekeeper or a Bee Disease Officer. They can take samples and examine them for certain diseases like acarine and nosema. You can also send samples to the National Bee Unit but it would require you to pay a certain amount.
In case Foul Brood is detected, it should be reported to the Bee Inspector or the National Beekeeping Unit and they will treat the disease for free.
There are a few terrific diseases:
This is a bacterial disease during the bee’s larvae and pupae stages. The usual origin is the bacteria that form persistent spores. Adult bees and contaminated equipment will spread the virus even more.
When a larva is infected, its colour changes from pearly white to dark brown. They usually die after being capped. A colony infected with AFB should be burned at once by a state Bee Inspector.
This is also a bacterial disease of larvae. The larvae die even after being capped unlike with AFB. Those infected larvae appear to be twisted in their cells. Their colour changes to creamy and they appear to have a melted look. EFB bacteria are not as dangerous as AFB. A colony infected with EFB should be treated with TerramycinÆ.
Adult bees are the ones being affected by this protozoan disease. When infected, colonies build up really slow or even not at all. Infected bees appear weak and usually crawl around the front of the beehive. In order to avoid nosema, choose a hive with a good flow of air. You can treat this disease by feeding the bees with FumidilÆ B in sugar syrup.
This is a fungal disease that affects the larvae. If infected, the larvae’s colour turns to chalky white, becomes hard, and finally turn black. Colonies are usually infected with this disease in early spring when the condition is damp. But colonies are capable of recovering on their own.
These are notorious pests affecting beekeeping equipment. They lay their eggs near the wax combs, and when they hatch, they begin to burrow and eat debris in the cells. Moth usually damage stored supers of combs. You can protect these supers by stacking them no higher than five hive bodies.
These microscopic mites affect young bees by entering their trachea or breathing tubes. They block the air exchange and penetrate the walls of the trachea in order to suck blood. Infected bees become weak and also crawl around the bee entrance. If infected, colonies should be treated with MiticurÆ or special formulations of menthol.
These mites are copper in colour and they are about the size of a pinhead. They cling to adult bees to suck their blood. Female mites will reproduce in brood cells. In time, their offspring suck the
blood of the developing bee. Colonies affected by these mites are treated with ApistanÆ, a formulation of fluvalinate.